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With a creamy, tangy dressing, sweet corn, salty cheese, and bright herbs, this Mexican street corn pasta salad recipe packs all the flavors of elote into a summer side dish.

top view of mexican corn pasta salad on white platter with fresh garnishes

Give your summer potlucks, picnics, and parties a fresh addition to the food roster with this dish! It’s a crowd-pleasing side that goes well with burgers, steaks, tacos, or grilled chicken.

Inspired by Mexican street corn salad, this cold pasta recipe is perfect for when the weather starts to warm up. With corn, pasta, cheese, creamy dressing, zippy spices, and savory herbs, it’s absolutely packed with flavor – and easy to make!

If you’re feeding a big group and want some budget-friendly food options, this is a great choice. With a base of pasta, it’s an affordable recipe that’s easy to scale up to feed however many you need it to.

front view of street corn pasta salad with ditalini in white bowl

Why This Recipe is a Winner

  • In the summertime there’s nothing better than fresh, local corn, and this pasta salad puts it at the forefront!
  • If you’re going camping or are prepping for a summer party, this dish is perfect! It’s a cold pasta salad that stays good for up to four days, so you can make it well ahead of time. And heads up, it’s even better as it sits in the fridge and the flavors blend!
  • You can pair this with anything you throw on the grill. Swap it out for your regular pasta salad or potato salad because it’s just as versatile and crowd-pleasing!

Ingredients

Ingredients Explained

In this section I explain the ingredients and give substitution ideas where applicable. For the full recipe (including the ingredient amounts), see the recipe card below.

mexican street corn pasta salad ingredients

Creamy Dressing Ingredients

  • Mayo – Mayo adds rich flavor and creamy texture.
  • Sour cream – Sour cream adds a velvety smooth texture and subtle tangy flavor.
  • Fresh lime juice – A squeeze of fresh lime juice brightens the flavor and cuts through the richness of the mayo and sour cream.
  • Tajín seasoning – This seasoning has a very tangy, lime-forward flavor. If it isn’t your thing, you can substitute with a few different spices. To omit the Tajín, add the following: 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika, and increase the lime juice to 2 tablespoons and the lime zest to 2 teaspoons. 
  • Fresh lime zest – This adds intense citrusy lime flavor without the acidity of juice.

Elote Pasta Salad Ingredients

  • Ditalini pasta – Or you can use any small pasta shape you like.
  • Corn on the cob – For the best flavor, use fresh local corn on the cob when it’s in season. The easiest way to cook it for the most flavorful corn is to microwave it! Not only is it sweet and juicy, but the husks just slip right off with no mess. (I have a full post on how to microwave corn on the cob in the husks.) Or if you’re firing up the grill anyway, you can just grill the corn for this salad.
  • Butter – We sauté the garlic and jalapeños in butter to slightly take the edge off.
  • Garlic – For flavor and aroma.
  • Jalapeño – Adds a spicy kick. Feel free to adjust the amount of jalapeños up or down depending on how spicy you like your food.
  • Red onion – Raw red onion adds a piquant bite. If you like the flavor of onion but want it a little more subtle, after you dice the onion, soak it in ice-cold water for 10 minutes, then drain it well and use it.
  • Cotija cheese – This is a milky, salty, crumbly cheese that’s named after the municipality of Cotija in the Mexican state of Michoacán. If you can’t find Cotija, for this recipe you can substitute with crumbled queso fresco or feta.
  • Scallion – Scallion adds mild onion flavor and a pop of green color.
  • Fresh cilantro leaves, sliced jalapeño pepper, and fresh lime wedges – These optional garnishes add flavor and color.

Instructions

how to make elote pasta salad
  1. Add all ingredients for the dressing to a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Cover and refrigerate while you make the salad.
  2. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain and set aside to cool. (If the pasta sticks together as it cools, run it under cold water for a few seconds.)
  3. Cook the corn any way you like, let it cool, and then cut the kernels off the cob.
  4. Add the butter to a small skillet over medium heat. Once melted, add the garlic and minced jalapeños, and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and cool for a few minutes.
  5. Add the pasta, corn, garlic/jalapeño butter, red onion, 2/3 of the cheese, half of the sliced scallions, and creamy dressing to a large bowl and gently toss to combine.
  6. If you have the time, chill for 2 hours before serving. Right before serving, transfer to a serving platter and top with the remaining 1/3 of the cheese, half of the sliced scallions, the cilantro leaves, and the sliced jalapeño. Serve along with the lime wedges to squeeze on top.

Storage

Store leftovers covered in the fridge for up to 4 days. Wait to add the garnishes until right before serving.

serving of mexican corn pasta salad in white bowl with cilantro garnish

Cook’s Tips

  • After being in the fridge a couple days, creamy pasta salad has the tendency to dry out a little. It’s still fine to eat, but if you want to bring back the creaminess, feel free to stir in a dollop of mayo.
  • An easy way to bump up the protein and make this salad stretch is to add a can of rinsed, drained black beans.
  • Tajín seasoning has a very tangy, lime-forward flavor. If it isn’t your thing, you can substitute with a few different spices; see the Notes in the recipe card below for details.
    top view of platter of elote pasta salad

    Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad FAQs

    Can I Use Canned Corn?


    Yes! If corn isn’t in season, feel free to use canned or frozen corn instead of fresh corn for this recipe.

    What Pasta Can I Use?


    I like to use datalini pasta for this creamy salad for a couple reasons. For starters, the shape mimics the shape of the corn kernels. Additionally, datalini is a very small tube-shaped pasta, so it holds the creamy dressing well.

    However, you can use any type of pasta that you like for making cold pasta salads. For example, farfalle, elbow, or rotini all work well.

    More Pasta Salad Recipes to Try

    front view of elote pasta salad in white stoneware bowl

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    Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad Recipe (Elote Pasta Salad)

    Prep Time10 minutes
    Cook Time20 minutes
    Yields: 8 servings
    With a creamy, tangy dressing, sweet corn, salty cheese, and bright herbs, this Mexican street corn pasta salad recipe packs all the flavors of elote into a summer side dish.

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    Ingredients
     

    Creamy Dressing:

    • 1/2 cup mayo
    • 1/2 cup sour cream
    • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons Tajín seasoning (see Notes for substitute)
    • 1 teaspoon fresh lime zest

    Pasta Salad:

    • 8 ounces ditalini pasta cooked according to the package directions and drained (or any small pasta shape you like)
    • 4 large ears corn on the cob cooked, cooled, and cut off the cob (see Notes)
    • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 4 cloves garlic crushed
    • 2 jalapeño peppers de-seeded and minced (you can reduce it to 1 jalapeño if you don’t want it spicy)
    • 1/2 medium red onion diced
    • 6 ounces crumbled cotija cheese divided
    • 3 scallions green and white parts, thinly sliced, divided
    • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves (for garnish)
    • 1 jalapeño pepper thinly sliced (for garnish)
    • 1 lime cut into 6 wedges (for squeezing on top when you serve it)

    Instructions
     

    For the Creamy Dressing:

    • Add all ingredients to a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Cover and refrigerate while you make the salad.

    For the Salad:

    • Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain and set aside to cool. (If the pasta sticks together as it cools, run it under cold water for a few seconds.)
    • Cook the corn any way you like, let it cool, and then cut the kernels off the cob.
    • Add the butter to a small skillet over medium heat. Once melted, add the garlic and minced jalapeños, and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and cool for a few minutes.
    • Add the pasta, corn, garlic/jalapeño butter, red onion, 2/3 of the cheese, half of the sliced scallions, and creamy dressing to a large bowl and gently toss to combine.
    • If you have the time, chill for 2 hours before serving.
    • Right before serving, transfer to a serving platter and top with the remaining 1/3 of the cheese, half of the sliced scallions, the cilantro leaves, and the sliced jalapeño. Serve along with the lime wedges to squeeze on top.

    Notes

    • Cooking the Corn: For the best flavor, use fresh local corn on the cob when it’s in season. The easiest way to cook it for the most flavorful corn is to microwave it! Not only is it sweet and juicy, but the husks just slip right off with no mess. (I have a full post on how to microwave corn on the cob in the husks.) Or if you’re firing up the grill anyway, you can grill the corn for this salad to give it some char flavor.
    • Storage: Store leftovers covered in the fridge for up to 4 days. Wait to add the garnishes until right before serving. After being in the fridge a couple days, creamy pasta salad has the tendency to dry out a little. It’s still fine to eat, but if you want to bring back the creaminess, feel free to stir in a dollop of mayo.
    • Make it Stretch: An easy way to bump up the protein and make this salad stretch is to add a can of rinsed, drained black beans.
    • Tajín Seasoning Substitute: This seasoning has a very tangy, lime-forward flavor. If it isn’t your thing, you can substitute with a few different spices. To omit the Tajín, add the following: 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika, and increase the lime juice to 2 tablespoons and the lime zest to 2 teaspoons.

    Nutrition

    Calories: 301kcal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 37mg | Sodium: 374mg | Potassium: 288mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 517IU | Vitamin C: 14mg | Calcium: 154mg | Iron: 1mg

    Nutritional information is automatically calculated and should be used as an approximate.

    Course: Salad, Side Dish
    Cuisine: American
    Keyword: Elote Pasta Salad, Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad, Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad Recipe, Street Corn Pasta Salad, Street Corn Pasta Salad Recipe

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    street corn pasta salad pin
    Faith, author of An Edible Mosaic.
    About Faith

    I’m the writer, recipe developer, photographer, and food stylist behind this blog. I love finding the human connection through something we all do every day: eat! Food is a common ground that we can all relate to, and our tables tell a story. It’s my goal to inspire you to get in the kitchen, try something new, and find a favorite you didn’t know you had.

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    One Comment

    1. This was really good. I took it to a memorial day party yesterday and everybody went nuts.

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